Michigan’s combination of environmental treasures, challenges and opportunities make the state a key part of ELPC’s advocacy to achieve environmental progress and economic development together.  ELPC works in Michigan to:

  • Advance solar energy and energy efficiency — ELPC is working hard before the Michigan Public Service Commission to ensure that consumers get the best possible energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. Some utilities oppose these programs because they cut into their profits, but residents, businesses and officials all agree that Michigan needs more solar energy and good energy efficiency programs. Michigan is falling behind other Midwest states on solar energy development — Ohio already has almost 4x as much capacity as Michigan, while Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota all made huge new commitments to solar in 2013-2014.
  • Advance high-speed rail — Michigan is part of the Midwest High-Speed Rail Network, and ELPC has worked hard with local advocates to ensure that the popular route connecting Chicago to Kalamazoo and Detroit continues to operate more quickly and efficiently.
  • Protect and preserve wild & natural places like the Great Lakes, Saugatuck Dunes, Sylvania Wilderness and Straits of Mackinac — ELPC works to protect the Great Lakes from aging oil pipelines, toxic coal ash dumping, unnecessary runoff and other source of pollution. We are especially engaged in Michigan in protecting the Upper Peninsula’s tranquil Sylvania Wilderness from noisy and polluting motorboat use, preserving the Saugatuck Dunes from unnecessary development, and ensuring pipelines running through the Straits of Mackinac are upgraded or replaced.

ELPC partners with the Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan Land Use Institute, Sierra Club, Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance and other state and local groups to achieve progress.


Past Victories

  • Natural Resources – In 2016, ELPC attorneys, representing Friends of Sylvania, Sylvania Wilderness Cabins, and the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition, won a major victory in federal district court to finally limit “grandfathered” polluting and noisy gas-powered motorboat use along the Sylvania Wilderness. This ELPC litigation victory is a key precedent for protecting our Wilderness Areas, National Forests, and National Lakeshores in the North Woods and Upper Great Lakes. The Sylvania Wilderness is a beautiful, 18,327-acre wilderness area with quiet connected lakes and old-growth trees on the Wisconsin-Michigan border. We’re protecting the Sylvania Wilderness against invasive species and preserving wilderness tranquility for people to enjoy in this special place.
  • Clean Energy – In 2017, ELPC’s legal advocacy lead to updated an “avoided cost” formula for PURPA projects in the state which should lead to accelerated growth in solar energy.  In 2011, ELPC released a report on Michigan’s clean energy supply chain, finding 121 Michigan businesses working in solar energy and 120 companies involved in wind power. These findings are helping support ELPC’s ongoing legal advocacy to expand successful solar and energy efficiency programs in Michigan. 
  • Clean Water – In 2004, ELPC and the Michigan Land Use Institute achieved a great victory when the Grand Traverse County Road Commission agreed not to pursue its plan to build a 4-5-land road and bridge project through the pristine Boardman River Valley near Traverse City. The Hartman-Hammond Bridge would have harmed the Boardman River, a blue-ribbon trout stream, and triggered sprawl in the largely undeveloped Boardman River Valley. We proposed a “Smart Roads” alternative to more effectively address traffic congestion in the area, save money and cause less harm to the environment. 
  • Clean Transportation – In an overwhelmingly bi-partisan vote, the Michigan legislature voted in 2011 to approve a $39 million state appropriation that unlocked $161 million in federal funding to enhance passenger train service between Detroit and Chicago. Federal grants to improve the Detroit-Chicago line now total more than $400 million, almost half of which was money rejected by Florida. These funds are improving service between Kalamazoo and Dearborn; upgrading stations in Dearborn, Troy-Birmingham, and Battle Creek; and reducing congestion between passenger and freight trains — ultimately  leading to a consistent 4-hour trip between Chicago and Detroit.
  • Natural Resources – ELPC serves as the legal counsel for the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance and the seven conservation, civic and historic preservation organizations that are fighting to protect the dunes from a destructive development plan that violates local zoning rules. While still in process after several years and several chapters of legal advocacy before local, state and federal agencies and courts, ELPC has successfully held off some of the most destructive proposals. 

For more victories, visit our impacts page.


ELPC’s Michigan Office

1514 Wealthy Street SE, Suite 256
Grand Rapids, MI  49506
(312) 795-3708

Key program staff working in Michigan

Margrethe Kearney, Staff Attorney
Kevin Brubaker, Deputy Director
Rachel Granneman, Staff Attorney
Howard Learner, Executive Director

ELPC’s multi-disciplinary staff, Board and Advisory Councils work throughout the Midwest to help solve environmental problems.

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